As communities and businesses begin the cautious process of reopening amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Missouri and Kansas Laborers District Council and their signatory contractors are on the front lines getting buildings and workspaces deep cleaned and disinfected.
Union Laborers are frequently called on to perform environmental abatement work on building cleanup and redevelopment projects as well containment work when construction work is under way in hospitals.
There are a number of cleaning companies offering to “deep clean” offices and building spaces in preparation for returning workers. But unless they are properly trained on cleanup, abatement and the proper use of personal protective equipment, they may provide nothing more than surface cleaning, increasing the risk that employees and customers will be exposed to viral contaminants.
“LiUNA signatory contractors and LiUNA members are on a mission to keep our communities safe from the spread of Coronavirus,” said Brandon Flinn, business manager for the Missouri and Kansas Laborers District Council. “LiUNA Training was able to quickly develop an online Infectious Disease Awareness Course for our membership that features COVID-19 content aimed at keeping their coworkers, the public, and themselves safe. And we are actively promoting our contractors and the trained, safe LiUNA workforce working to keep our businesses and communities safe.”
The Missouri and Kansas Laborers District Council has launched a radio and digital marketing campaign in conjunction with the Eastern Missouri Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET) and Western Missouri-Kansas LECET to promote their signatory contractors, who, with highly trained LiUNA employees, offer the best, safest option for the public and business owners to keep communities safe from the spread of the spread of the coronavirus as businesses reopen.
INFECTIOUS DISEASES TRAINING
The LECET is providing a free four-hour Infectious Disease Awareness Training Course for all members with the latest information about infectious diseases and safe processes.
“The workers that are working for these environmental contractors are used to doing asbestos abatement,” Flinn said. “They have a 40-hour asbestos course, respirator fit testing, a physical that includes a pulmonary function test, lead work license and an 80-hour hazmat license.
“The LiUNA training that they received has infectious diseases training, available to all members, and it also has a COVID portion that covers decontamination and best practices.
“We knew that we had environmental contractors, primarily, that were being solicited to do COVID decontamination, COVID regular cleaning and also deep cleaning,” Flinn said. “But we’ve also reached out to other contractors that work in hospitals, and environmental contractors, to see if they were interested in COVID cleaning.”
Flinn said they’ve reached out to union contractors all over the state of Missouri and eastern Kansas, and has put together a master list at MKLDC.org, then click on the COVID-19 tab at top of page or MOCovidCleanup.com to connect decision makers with union contractors that are actively doing COVID cleanup or have the skillset of workers to do so.
MEETING TRAINING NEEDS, RAISING AWARENESS
“The general idea is to try to create awareness within the general public but also with decision makers in the companies and government entities that have facilities that either have people currently in them, or will have folks coming to the facilities very shortly, that these services are out there,” Scott Hughes, director of the Eastern Missouri Laborers LECET program. “The contractors that we work with providing these services are leaders in their field and have a trained workforce that has an understanding of how to keep themselves safe, keep their workers safe and keep the public safe. If the decision makers need this, we have the contractors and the staff to accomplish this for them.
“One of the benefits of LiUNA training is they were able to move very quickly to meet the training needs of the contractors and Laborers members,” said Hughes. “Laborers for many years have done the abatement training and cleanup work. We’ve done years and years of work doing infection control work in hospital settings. LiUNA was able to build on that and move very quickly to get this training in place.”
THE UNION DIFFERENCE
Thom Wellington, president of signatory contractor Wellington Environmental, said his union crews start by fogging the entire building or workspace with hospital grade disinfectant to make sure all surfaces are treated, then perform a deep cleaning to remove any contaminants.
“We have crews out every day and every night doing this,” he said. “We start with a precautionary fogging with hospital grade disinfectant to make sure all the surfaces are treated for actual COVID, then perform a deep cleaning.”
Wellington said his crews are trained for a variety of cleanup efforts, including disinfecting and cleaning for blood-borne pathogens. Crews are equipped with face shields, negative-pressure respirators and medical screening to ensure they keep themselves safe while cleaning and disinfecting the buildings.
“Our guys are well-trained and trained safe,” he said. “There is a difference in worker care and the level of cleaning from the beginning over what a normal housekeeping staff would do. There are a lot of special issues that our guys know. They’re used to being in these suits and doing this kind of work, because we do this all the time. Our guys know what they’re doing, and they clean well.”